Moving to Namibia?
Namibia’s Geography and Climate
With an area of 824,292 square kilometers, Namibia is the world’s 34th largest country. Due to the fact that the super-arid Namib Desert covers much of its area, it is also the second-least densely populated country in the world after Mongolia. The country is not completely covered by barren desert, but instead has five unique geographical areas: the Namib Desert, the Central Plateau, the Great Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desert.
Namibia’s Two Deserts
The Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, stretches along Namibia’s entire coastline, varying from 100 kilometers to several hundred kilometers in width. It includes such well-known destinations as the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld.
The Kalahari Desert, as opposed to the Namib Desert, is only classified as a semi-desert, as it does receive small amounts of stable precipitation. This rainfall results in huge tracts of excellent grazing land and supports a large number of unique succulent plant species.
Further Geographical Areas
In between the two deserts lies the enormous Central Plateau, covering a large swathe of land running vertically down the length of the country. The majority of Namibia’s population and economic activity is located in this geographical area, and the capital, Windhoek, is also located here.
The Great Escarpment quickly rises to over 2,000 meters, and is located between the Namib Desert and the Central Plateau. Although the terrain is rocky with poorly developed soils, it is much more fertile than the Namib Desert because it receives more rainfall.
Finally, the Bushveld area is located in northeastern Namibia along the Angolan border and in the Caprivi Strip. It receives a significantly higher amount of rainfall than the other areas, averaging at about 400 millimeters per year.
From beautiful sunsets to powerful thunderstorms, from devastating flooding to equally damaging droughts — when it comes to climate and weather, Namibia is a country of extremes. Although overall classified as having an arid climate, the actual weather conditions, temperatures and amount of rainfall vary considerably throughout the country due to its different geographical regions. Located as it is between two deserts, Namibia has the least amount of rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa and usually has over 300 sunny days per year.
The coastal areas have a smaller temperature range, which increases as one moves farther inland. For example, Walvis Bay experiences temperatures ranging from 9°C to18°C in the winter, and from 14°C to 30°C in the summer. Temperatures here are kept mild by the cold Atlantic winds. Windhoek, on the other hand, has temperatures ranging from 7°C to 20°C in the winter and from 20°C to 30°C in the summer. In the Kalahari Desert, the extremes are even greater, with 0°C to 25°C in the winter and 18°C to 45°C in the summer.
Winter in Namibia is the dry season, and runs from June through August. The summer months are December to February. Namibia has two rainy seasons, a small one from September to November and a bigger one from February through April. During the rainy season it does not necessarily rain all day every day, however.
Large amounts of rainwater in Angola cause annual flooding (Efundja) in the north of Namibia, which often causes devastating damage to the local infrastructure and loss of life. The worst flooding in recent years occurred in March 2011, when it displaced 21,000 people. On the other hand, erratic rainfall, especially in the Caprivi Strip, can lead to harmful droughts. Namibia has been suffering from a persistent drought for the past three years (2013-2016). This has been the country’s most severe drought in over 25 years. In consequence, the president of Namibia declared a state of emergency in July 2016, due to lack of food sources.
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